So many job candidates endlessly rehearse answers to the trite and tired interview questions they expect from recruiters.
That’s why if you want to evoke authenticity from your applicants, you need to shake things up a little bit with an unusual job interview question or two. These kinds of questions are a superb way of separating the merely mediocre from talent who’ll help take your company in exciting new directions.
These days, more businesses are making unusual interview questions an integral part of their hiring process. You, too, can use them to see how an interviewee responds to an unexpected problem or scenario. By asking a question of this nature, you’ll see how good your prospective employee is at thinking on his feet.
Most of these questions don't have right or wrong answers. They allow your aspirant to showcase his creativity, logical thinking abilities, and sense of humor. There's no way to prepare for these types of questions, so the interviewer can observe how the applicant composes his thoughts.
Make sure you know what you're looking for with each weird and unique job interview question you ask. In other words, don’t ask whacky questions for the sake of asking whacky questions—use them to elicit the knowledge you need to make the right hiring decision.
Here are 20 unconventional questions you might want to ask your applicant:
1. Are You a hunter, or are you a gatherer?
This highly unusual interview query is an excellent way to figure out an applicant's strengths and weaknesses.
There's no correct answer, of course.
It all depends on the kind of work you want your candidate to do. For instance, a marketing assistant is more likely to be a gatherer because he'll be searching for massive quantities of information--just like his forebears the Neanderthals did.
Instead of foraging through the forest for fruit, seeds, and nuts, he collates databases and analyzes consumer ratings reports. If you're looking for an account manager—an individual who woos clients and seizes opportunities—you'll need a hunter.
You’ll want your candidate to answer the question in at least a semi-serious way, so try to steer him away from flippant answers.
2. What's something you believe that a majority of people on planet earth don't?
Some applicants might consider this question to be not very relevant.
However, it can reveal if a candidate possesses the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that’ll be a tremendous asset for your company.
The more thoughtful the response, the more likely it is that your applicant is an unorthodox thinker who's not straight-jacketed by the conventional ways of doing things.
3. Tell me how many books could fit into this office.
If you have a technical position that needs filling, you might want to ask your candidate this question.
It’s a superb way to get him to demonstrate his logical thinking abilities. Look more for how he would go about solving this problem instead of a literal answer.
In other words, his process.
4. What's your all-time favorite fairy tale, and what makes you like it so much?
This is an excellent ice breaker question that allows the applicant to relax by creating a friendly and fun atmosphere.
However, it might prove useful beyond merely breaking the tension by providing you with a tantalizing glimpse into what values are most important to the interviewee.
5. What children's board game appeals to you the most?
This question can reveal volumes about a candidate’s strengths.
For instance, someone who adores “Monopoly” could be a highly competitive individual who also has excellent strategic thinking abilities.
If someone likes “Chutes & Ladders,” that individual could thrive on spontaneity and not get upset when things don’t go as planned.
6. Would you damage your coworker's career to climb up the ladder?
This query will help uncover a candidate's work ethic and whether he’s a team player.
An affirmative answer might be an indicator of an ambitious employee. It might also go hand in hand with a willingness to recklessly sabotage company culture in the Machiavellian pursuit of personal goals.
7. List 10 highly unconventional uses for a paper clip.
Although this is certainly a crazy interview question, it can reveal just how creative a candidate is.
The more creative the answers, the better he probably is at the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that'll help your company develop visionary solutions to perplexing problems.
Just for fun, here are ten I thought of:
- Letter opener
- Plant hanger
- Make-do keychain
- Unclog a salt shaker
- Nail cleaner
- Money clip
- Jewelry clasp
- Mini screwdriver
- Cherry pit remover
8. Between invisibility and flying, which superpower would you choose?
This question could tell you what kind of leader your candidate is.
For example, people who choose flying might have more of an extroverted leadership style. Those that select invisibility are more likely to be behind-the-scenes orchestrators who would prefer to unceremoniously fade into the background instead of tooting their own horn.
What kind of leader do you need?
9. Have you ever enjoyed a refreshing vacation in the mountains? If so, what did you like about it?
Answers that are elaborated on are better than a mere "yes" or "no" response.
The answer might uncover whether an applicant would be a good culture fit by giving you a little insight into their interests and hobbies.
It could also tell you how hungry your candidate is for new challenges.
10. What is your spirit animal, and why?
You could gain useful insights into whether your interviewee will fit in with your company culture by asking this question.
It doesn't so much matter which animal your interviewee picks, but how he sells it to you. Dig deeper than the superficial answer and see how his response fits in with the work he’ll be doing with your organization.
However, one answer you shouldn’t accept is a duck, “because it’s calm on the surface and hustling like mad getting things done underneath the surface.” That’s because this is a cliched response that’s been done to death.
11. How would you tell a blind person what the color red was like?
This type of query will help you test an aspirant's creativity, ability to think outside the box, and imagination.
It might also show you how skilled he is at using words to convey ideas and concepts.
12. If you had the opportunity, how would you transform society?
So, if those values are important to you, this is an excellent question to ask!
It might also be a good indicator of his ability to formulate creative solutions to complex problems.
13. If you were to be magically transformed into a kitchen appliance, which one would you choose and why?
Ask this question, and you’ll quite possibly get some insight into a candidate’s imagination and creativity.
The more creative the answer, the better.
14. Imagine yourself on a deserted island. You don’t need to take care of any human needs, including water and food. What things would you like to have with you?
By asking this, you'll see what the life priorities of your interviewee are.
Hopefully, you’ll get a very intriguing answer.
15. If Hollywood were to make a movie based on your life, which actor would you choose to play you?
When you ask this question, you’ll find out what the life narrative of your prospective employee is.
This might give you some fantastic insights into how he’d be as a team member in your company.
16. What would the headline say if a newspaper reported the story of your life?
This question should definitely give you a little peek into the applicant’s passions and values.
You’ll find out what’s super important to the applicant, which might be relevant to your hiring decision.
17. Who helped you get where you are today?
The role models that shaped us during our formative years reveal volumes about what inspires us and the character traits we value.
Look for an insightful and articulate response, and make your hiring decision accordingly.
18. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the very best, where would you rate yourself? What keeps you from being a 10?
The answer to this question will help you to see how realistic the candidate is about their talents.
It might also reveal how humble they are.
19. Would you leap at the chance to colonize Mars? Why or why not?
With the answer to this question, you might learn if your prospective employee is up for a challenge.
It's a long way from Acidalia Planitia (a plain on Mars) to an earthbound office. However, knowing how risk-averse your future team member is could be useful information to help you make the best hiring decision.
20. Tell me about a time when a company felt like a bad fit for your personality.
Not everyone can fit into every office environment.
See how your candidate answers this, and if he can admit that he faced this situation sometime in his past.
You want an employee who can be diplomatic without being overly eager to assign blame.
Need more questions? Here are 29 unique interview questions.
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